A Half-Life fanfiction by Beth Einspanier
Disclaimer: Half-Life is not mine. Valve is a god. Worship the Valve and the One Free Man.
Barney Calhoun just… stopped.
He'd seen a lot of things since the war with the Combine had started, and seen a lot of amazing things perpetrated by his friend, Gordon Freeman, but this… this took the cake.
Gordon seemed to sense he was being watched, and glanced up from the book he was reading. "What?"
"What do you mean, 'what'? Explain yourself, Freeman." Barney folded his arms, less vexed than amused, given the circumstances.
"I found a book in some debris." He held it up: A Christmas Carol. "It's a bit out of season, but I figured I had a few spare minutes to catch up on my literature."
"So… you're reading," Barney said, folding his arms across his chest.
"I'm reading," Gordon confirmed.
"With Alyx Vance asleep in your lap."
Gordon glanced down at Alyx, who was curled up, catlike, across his legs, her head on his shoulder and her arms around his neck. Her eyes were closed and her expression was serene. He looked at Barney. "…so?"
"What do you mean, 'so'?! Stuff like that doesn't just happen, man."
"I don't have to explain anything to you."
Gordon glanced at Alyx for a few thoughtful moments. "She tripped."
"And just happened to land on your lap."
"And fell asleep."
"I didn't want to disturb her. This is probably the best nap she's had in days."
"And nothing at all happened prior to that."
"I was reading." Gordon held up the book again, to emphasize. "And I would like to return to reading."
"You've got your arm around her."
"Of course I do. I wasn't about to let her hit her head on the arm of the couch."
"When she tripped."
"When she tripped, yes."
"And you see nothing at all weird about this."
Gordon sighed. "No, nothing."
"Not even the fact that you're holding the book upside-down?"
Gordon glared. "I like reading this way. It's perfect mental exercise. Come on, man--if you keep on like this, you'll wake her up, and then we'll both have hell to pay."
Barney threw up his hands. "Okay, okay, I'll leave you to your book."
Gordon returned to his book, and Barney left.
Half a minute later, Alyx said, "You know this is gonna drive him nuts for days."
"I know," Gordon smirked, setting down the book, "That was kind of the point. Now… where were we?" He pulled her close.